The five-year-old pupil was given the choice by Brenda Davies of forgiving the six bullies or smacking them with a wooden ruler. He chose to "tap" them lightly across the hands.
Ms Davies said she had been trying to "empower" the youngster and had been working in the best interests of all the children. However, after parents of five of the pupils at Tennyson Road Primary School, Luton, complained, the headteacher has started an investigation which could threaten her career as a teacher.
News of the investigation comes as inspectors today begin work at the troubled Ridings School in Halifax, where teachers are threatening to strike unless 60 disruptive pupils are disciplined or excluded.
The members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools have been ordered into the comprehensive by Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, after allegations that order in the school was breaking down.
Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), who account for 35 of the 40 staff, could strike in two weeks' time if their demands are not met.
They say there have been three serious assaults on staff in recent weeks, and that pupils have been guilty of throwing stones and fireworks. A small but significant minority of the 11-16 population of the school have rejected its system of discipline, they claim.
Announcing that she was sending inspectors to check up on teaching standards and management as well as behaviour, Mrs Shephard said she had not been satisfied by the local authority's attempts to deal with the school's problems.
Calderdale council had had two years since the school was created from a merger to make it work, she said, and it had been apparent for several months that things were going wrong.
The council and the school's governors have said they will work with the inspectors, but have added that they are disappointed at not being given more time.They have been working out a package of measures to provide more resources and support.
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, says the strike could go ahead despite the inspection.
"These children should be referred to units and special schools. They would tolerate a far higher degree of indiscipline and disruption than teachers in a normal school," he said.Reuse content